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Geographical Information System (GIS) based property tax collection

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Source: Google
Source: Google

PS: Some Parts of this Post have been adopted from online sources such as: https://www.geospatialworld.net/article/gis-simplifying-property-tax-collection-in-india/

By : Sylvia Makario

Tax collection is every governments nightmare. It is marred with defaulters, pending payments or arrears as they are referred to, court cases, and several many scuffles that sometimes make it look like  a zero sum game.

Over the years the major tax reforms that have taken place mostly involve  the employment tax and the tax on imported goods and services. However the major  space that hasn’t fully conceived the tax reform gains is the land and property ownership. Without the right technology and expertise around this topic, there so much one can gain from assessing who pays what tax. Indeed, land is a very sensitive issue to even talk about especially in the African context. Albeit, we still must move forward for all to gain from the reforms as required.

Consequently the use of Geospatial and Space Technologies plays a bigger role here. It  is the framework that can only be used in delivering the value addition.This  to both the property owners and the government whose mandate is that taxes are paid in both owned land and property. This obviously also depends on the reforms in the country you live in and how the implementation is done.

The implementation of the  Geospatial Technologies, in particular GIS   has resulted in improving  efficiency and transparency in various sectors. Its implementation in the reforms of tax related to land and property will certainly create the same feeling as any other space.  The use of these technologies  creates efficiency and transparency in the assessment process, facilitating  tax compliance, creating strong master data governance and rationalizing the Property Tax regime. A typical example of where the use of GIS is working well on tax on property and land is Singapore which has been tremendously successful in this front.

Delving into quite the basics that could go into creating a robust  tax based property and land reform  are the following:

Firstly Geospatial Technologies are a myriad of Intertwined technologies which require specialized expertise in all. There are individuals that are concentrated on ;the Data collection process from satellite technologies and  GPS ;those specialized in the software development and finally  those that are majorly involved in the data analytics and visualization process which consequently informs the kind of decision that is going to  to be made based on the results provide.All these specialties are coalesced in such a manner that none can work without the other.

The process begins with engaging a credible field/land survey agencies( which is like the foundation of building up all  the data sets required in spatial technologies) for capturing property attributes such as property ownership, occupant details and existing tax details coupled with plinth area, type of building structure, number of floors, type of property use and built up area.

Consequently the digitization of existing manual records and its subsequent comparison with survey outputs can be used to understand and correct assessment errors, identify illegal constructions, tax defaults therein and enhance operational efficiency  in a dramatic way.

This is then followed by the creation of  region  maps(depending on how a country is divided whether in terms of provinces, wards etc) using high resolution satellite imagery, accurate Geo-referenced control points and validated by ground truthing(basically confirming that what is in the field is what has been mapped). Once the base map is created, the relevant property boundary layer is created over the GIS base map to create homogeneous GIS data layers, including other property attributes  that come out of the field survey. Thereafter, the master data including the spatial data types are stored in a data repository and integrated with the Tax and Revenue Management system based on a dynamic business rule engine.

During the creation of Tax demand, the Administrator can look at tax calculations based on existing assessment and compare it with the current GIS aided calculation and rationalize the demand. Once the system is in place, usage of decision-support tools and predictive algorithms can further open up newer revenue streams for the  revenue Authorities in various companies.

In India for example there is a lot of use of the Geospatial Technologies being implemented at a much faster rate and being adopted rapidly.Reports from adopters of Geospatial technologies in dynamic Municipal Corporations like Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and relatively smaller cities such Kanpur, Bhopal etc. share their experiences on what the Geospatial technologies such as the use of GIS has resulted to multiple folds of improvement in their tax regimes.

According to the reports, they have observed profound increase in Tax revenue that can be directly attributed to the outputs of GIS intervention. When these benefits are supplanted by further investments in providing an omni-channel interface to Citizens and Industries, integration with Payment Gateways and a proper feedback mechanism – these Cities lead the way in demonstrating real Public Return-on-Investment (PRoI).  In addition to that, there are collaborative outcomes too – emergency and disaster management, calculation of real-time demand and consumption of utilities by properties and residents, identification of problem properties are just some of them.

However with that comes a myriad of questions posed like – what of looking into the Smart City priorities. Have they been looked at  objectively? Or, are we guilty of just being galvanized  on quick wins like Smart Parking, Lighting and free Wi-fi?  All these questions need to be addressed in-order to move forward with a strong foundation that will enable the hit the ground running no matter what challenges are experienced a long the way. A lot will be said but only actions do mater.!

Keep changing the world with your skillset and your passion. Those skills matter a lot more than you know.

Author: Sylvia  Makario(“Sharing the light and Love for technology; encouraging everyone to be themselves because  everyone else is taken) 🙂